Construction of the two cuttings is being led by HS2’s main works contractor, EKFB – a joint venture between Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and BAM Nuttall.
The 2.5-mile Barton Hartshorn to Mixbury cutting, near Brackley, will be the project’s longest cutting with 1.3m cu m of material set to be excavated in stages over the next three years.
Running across the boundaries between Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, the cutting will be up to 11m deep and will be crossed by six road, foot and bridleway bridges in order to keep communities connected.
Excavation has also started at the nearby Calvert cutting, which will take the line for 2.1 miles past the Buckinghamshire villages of Calvert Green and Steeple Claydon, roughly following the route of the disused Great Central Railway, which closed in the 1960s.
The cutting will take the line under four road bridges and the new East West Rail route, which is also currently under construction.
Around 685,000 cu m of material will be excavated to create the Calvert cutting, which will be up to 9.7m deep and wide enough to allow extra local railway lines to be added alongside the HS2 main line at a later date.
EKFB’s Deputy Project Director, Dan Hockey, said that across the 80km section of the HS2 route through Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and West Northants, EKFB will need to shift approximately 36 million cubic metres of earth and rock over the next three years.
Around 99% of this will be moved within HS2 land using a dedicated network of haul roads to reduce traffic on public roads.
In total, the first phase of HS2 will include 70 cuttings to keep the railway level as it crosses the countryside between London and Birmingham.